Former Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter was convicted of manslaughter Thursday and now faces 11 years in prison, eight months after she shot and killed Daunte Wright at a traffic stop.
Jurors began deliberating on Monday on the first- and second-degree charges Potter was facing for the fatal April 11 encounter.
The jury was comprised of six men and six women. One of the jurors is black, two are Asian American, and the other nine are white.
Potter, 49, shot Wright after he tried to flee cops seeking to arrest him on a weapons warrant during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. His death sparked national protests that happened alongside the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
Body-cam footage shown multiple times throughout the trial depicts the distraught officer, who has insisted she accidentally pulled her gun instead of her Taser that day.
“Oh my God!” Potter said as another cop tried to console her, according to the footage released by police. “Holy sh-t! I just shot him!”
Potter took the stand during her testimony, wailing her apology and struggling to find composure.
“I’m so sorry,” she cried. “I’m sorry it happened…I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”
Prosecutor Erin Eldridge, also a member of the prosecuting team in the Chauvin trial, said in her closing arguments that Potter’s actions were “no little ‘oopsie.’”
“This was a colossal screw-up, a blunder of epic proportions. It was precisely the thing she was warned about for years and she was trained to prevent it.” In her opening remarks she said Potter “betrayed her badge.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison — who successfully got a murder conviction against Chauvin — took over the prosecution in the case.
Defense Attorney Earl Gray said what happened was a mistake, and blamed Wright for his own death, saying if he had complied with the officers’ demands he would still be alive today.
“She made a mistake, and, my gosh, a mistake is not a crime,” Gray said.
Wright, who was just 20 years old at the time of his death and a father to a young child, was unarmed during the traffic stop.
His girlfriend was in the car at the time of the fatal encounter, testifying at the trial that she frantically tried to help him from the passenger seat.
“I grabbed like whatever was in the car,” Alayna Albrecht-Payton said, fighting through tears.
“I didn’t know what to do, so I just put my hands over his chest and I just tried to hold it and just started to scream his name,” she said. “I was just trying to have him talk to me and just kept saying, Daunte, like, Daunte, can you say something, please. Talk to me.”
Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said her “son had a smile that was worth a million dollars.”
“When he walked in the room, he lit up the room,” she said at his April funeral that was attended by Minnesota governor Tim Walz.
“We know that this tragedy is connected to the deep and systemic racism endemic in this country,” the governor told mourners at the funeral.
Potter resigned just days after the shooting, as did former Brooklyn Center police Chief Tim Gannon, who testified in Wright’s defense that he “saw no violation” of department policy during the deadly stop that set off national demonstrations.
Body footage from Brooklyn Center, Minn., Sgt. Mychal Johnson shown at the trial depicts a distraught Potter, rocking back and forth while laying facedown on a lawn with her head in her hands and her feet in the street in the moments after she shot Wright dead.
Johnson testified that Potter made a mistake, but force was justified because he could have been dragged if Wright hit the gas.
“Kim, we’ll get it all figured out, OK,” he was seen telling Potter on his body cam footage as she learned against a fence.
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